Walk of Life| October 6, 2022
We cry out and He responds
ON a trip to Eretz Yisrael in the summer of ’98, my family decided to visit Breichat Hameshushim. I was nine years old, and excited to be going on an authentic Israeli hike.
Our “tour guide” — my jovial and adventurous cousin who had made aliyah a decade earlier — assured us it would not be deathly difficult. Unfortunately, as tourists from New York, we didn’t truly understand what it meant to spend the day in 105-degree heat.
The hike wasn’t hard per se, but it was long, hot, and sorely lacking a shred of shade. On the side of the trail were abandoned cars, many of them torn in pieces. Not too encouraging. I even remember seeing a sign that we thought meant someone had died at that spot.
The entire time we hiked, my cousin kept calling out, “Just another five minutes…” To what, exactly? After another five minutes, and then another, and then a couple of hours, we reached the finale.
The desert path had led us to a wonderfully refreshing pool. (Suddenly the name Breichat Hameshushim made sense, as there was no actual water along the way, save for a few mirages.) We took a nice swim in the cool natural spring and then started walking toward our car. Unfortunately, the only way back was the way we’d come.
The sun was so strong that we dried off from our swim within minutes, almost as though the swim we had taken was some kind of a mirage itself. And by now, we were completely out of drinking water, with no refill in sight.
My mother and I lagged behind the crew, walking slowly, until we felt we could not keep going. This was before the days of cell phones. The others were ahead of us and we were afraid that we’d pass out on the road with no one to find us.
My mother and I sat down under a tree, and she said we should recite Shema Yisrael. I had learned about this in stories from my teachers, but never did I imagine I’d be doing it myself. Hearing that my mother felt the situation was bad enough to warrant this terrified me. I davened with a full heart, not knowing if we would survive this experience.
My memory after that is kind of foggy, because I was so weak with exhaustion. But I do recall that a few minutes after we davened, someone came to meet us with a new supply of water. It turned out that we were not too far from the parking lot, and those who had gone ahead were able to pick up water.
With that refreshment and some encouragement, my mother and I were able to get up and move on. We breathed a sigh of relief when we saw our air-conditioned car and the rest of the family waiting in the distance.
To this day, our family jokes about how awful that hike was (and how we will never forgive our cousin for the “chavayah”). But for some reason, no one but my mother and I recall it being “deathly.”
I, for one, will never forget what it felt like to sit under a tree asking Hashem to save me — and then feeling the love of His answer: Yes.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 813)
Oops! We could not locate your form.